Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Release Date: July 15, 2005

Movie of the Day for Friday, July 16, 2004
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 It's Gene Wilder's kids, run!!!!!

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Position Staff In Brief
12/85 Kim Hollis Just a brilliant film that is mostly true to the book. I'm happy to say that both this and the Gene Wilder version will be fondly remembered on my part.
14/60 Les Winan Echoes the original film, but wholly new and still in the spirit of the book. Depp and Highmore are predictably fantastic. It's the first Tim Burton movie in ten years that doesn't suck.
16/166 David Mumpower Depp is perfectly cast and the remake turns out to be as close to normal as Tim Burton can be. This is the only summer remake that delivers.

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Upon its initial release in 1971, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory was critically reviled. While author Roald Dahl remained for the most part true to the vision he imparted in his children's book, the movie was in fact much darker and in many ways more adult than the novel. It's impossible to deny, though, that the subversive and almost psychedelic film should be considered a classic of cinema, most particularly for Gene Wilder's amazing performance as the title character. In fact, now more than 30 years after the film's release, people really associate the characters and story far more with the movie than Dahl's charming story.

That's a lofty standard for any 21st century "reimagining" to undertake, especially because, when you come right down to it, the original film really did do everything right. Turning the focus to Willy Wonka and turning the bland hero Charlie Bucket into more of a supporting role was the proper decision. Wonka is just much, much more interesting, with opportunities galore for dialogue that sticks.

That's why it's perhaps a little surprising that director Tim Burton will stick more closely to the book in his reinvention of the story. If it's possible, Charlie is even more dull than he was in the movie. It's easy to sympathize with the character because his family is so poor that it is slowly starving, but at the same time he's such a goody goody that the fizzy lifting juice scene that humanizes him somewhat in the movie doesn't even exist.

On the other hand, though, the new Oompa Loompas should prove to be fascinating to see. While in the movie they were uniformed little men with orange skin and green hair, in the book they were even tinier, with rosy-white skin, luscious manes of golden-brown hair, and tribal-looking deerskins slung over their shoulders. One commonality that they do bear to their filmic cousins is a love for singing.

Really, the original film does a really pretty solid job of staying with the book right up until Violet Beauregarde chews the gum. From that point, it moves along rather quickly, exposing Veruca Salt to some trained squirrels as opposed to Golden Geese. Of course, since Charlie and his grandfather don't actually break any rules, there is also no angry Willy Wonka scene where he tells Charlie that he won't be getting any chocolate or anything else, for that matter. This sadly means that the wonderful line, "So shines a good deed in a weary world" is not present in the book. It should be pointed out, though, that the book's sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, picks up exactly where the first one left off, taking the characters on a fantastical adventure that shouldn't be missed (hint: the group might just become a little bit more familiar with Vermicious Knids). In combination, the two books work very well together indeed.

One thing is certain at this point. Burton has his work cut out for him, particularly in light of his very tepidly received update of The Planet of the Apes. He's definitely started off in the right direction with the signing of Hollywood "It-boy" Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. Very few actors would be able to properly capture the nuances of this idiosyncratic character, but he is certainly one who has the capability. Never afraid to take risks, he won't be afraid to embrace the weirdness that Wonka embodies.

At any rate, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is sure to draw the attention of fans of the original film, book lovers, and Depp devotees alike. What their reaction to the final product is remains to be seen. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Vital statistics for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Main Cast Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, Annasophia Robb
Supporting Cast Julia Winter, David Kelly, Jordan Fry, Philip Wiegratz, Missi Pyle
Director Tim Burton
Screenwriter John August
Distributor Warner Bros.
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG
Running Time 116 minutes
Screen Count 3,770
Awards Awards page for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Sleepy Hollow 11/19/9930.06 35.82 3062 9817.00 11208.4 101.07 120.44 3.36
James and the Giant Peach 4/12/967.54 10.28 2262 3333.00 4373.6 29.82 40.68 3.95
Edward Scissorhands 12/14/906.33 9.04 1080 5861.00 8055.4 53.98 77.13 8.53
Nightmare Before Christmas, The 10/22/936.24 9.08 1654 3773.00 5285.8 50.00 72.82 7.96
Big Fish 12/12/030.21 0.21 6 34562.00 34562.0 66.26 66.26 0.00



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